HAPPY BIRTHDAY, KAPPA!
Today is a great day; my father, Philip James Boren, is 81. He is one of the most interesting people I have ever known (including much younger people). He loves to learn, and is both open-minded and opinionated; I don't know how that works, but he does it. Some of his hobbies are: tennis, golf, cycling, fishing, rowing, gardening, reading (voraciously), investing, political issues, being a grandparent, reading to elementary school children. He is an incredible shopper, and a practical, yet generous, man.
Dad is passionate about life, and has more hobbies and interests than anyone I know. He likes to discuss things; he is funny and very quick-witted. Dad is a born salesman, in the best sense of communicating his views with integrity and energy. At the age of 40, he started a manufacturer's rep business (selling a variety of home improvement products), and made a success out of it by trying every day to "bless" his customers. He used to say that he wanted to sell products to his clients only if it would bless them and their business; he would pray that they would be inspired to make the right decision, and he did his best to give them an honest presentation of his products' features. Dad also understood his customers' business, their client base, and cared about what would be best for them. He traveled throughout Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Alaska in his work.
He likes to say "I am a child of the Depression." He worked at some kind of job from the age of 13 (he's retired now); he put himself through college on the G.I. Bill, and upon graduation, entered the radio business. He was a disc jockey, then an advertising salesman. Dad then entered my mother's family's wholesale hardware business, did his best there, and years later, decided that it was time to go out on his own.
He was uncomfortable when he had to fly, so he took flying lessons and got his VFR and instrument ratings. He got tired of traveling and driving, being on the road and sleeping in motels. He wanted to be at home with his family more, so he purchased a single-engine airplane and traveled that way whenever possible. He took the part of his job that he didn't like, and turned it into fun. That is a clue to his personality.
All three of us kids worked for him when he needed help, and as our abilities allowed (he would say he "gave us the opportunity to work for him;" I remember it as "an offer we couldn't refuse," to borrow a phrase). I worked in trade shows, beginning in junior high school, both the retail and wholesale kind. I learned to listen, and to speak to the public. We saw how hard he worked, and we gained confidence.
My parents put all three of us through college, but we were required to contribute financially to our travel and expenses. I worked for my dad during summer vacations, traveling with him and my brother to many cities. One of my kids' favorite stories is about me going to fireplace service school in Wisconsin; my personal favorite is having to sell brass nipples (a kind of plumbing fixture) to plumbing wholesalers when I was in college. If you've ever visited a plumbing wholesale house, enough said.
Both of my parents LOVE their children and grandchildren. They are totally interested in, and committed to, our well-being; they show their love in countless ways. My dad worked very hard for years, sacrificing his own comfort, to give us opportunities (and luxuries) that he did not have as a child. He spends time with us and with our children. He has taught the grandchildren many of his hobbies, and loves to share his enjoyment with them. He is very close to David, and was deeply connected to Katie; he adores Phil.
Last year, on his 80th, it was difficult to celebrate as we wanted to. He wanted to take the entire family on a cruise to celebrate. He didn't want to have a party until Katie could attend, but Katie was in the hospital and unable to go out. We ended up giving him a private family dinner at Trader Vic's, while Gregg and Katie stayed at the hospital, and we hoped that he would eventually get his birthday wish. He was able to celebrate other days with Katie, but he never got to take her on that cruise; she didn't get well enough to travel.
Today, I want to say, "Thank you" to my dad for being such a great man and father. I love you!